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Wishart, Lambert: Works For Piano / Tanner, Schiller

Release Date: 03/13/2007 
Label:  Priory Records   Catalog #: 881   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Peter WishartConstant Lambert
Performer:  Mark TannerAllan Schiller
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

WISHART Opheis Kai Klimakes. Partita in f?, op. 10. Sonata for Piano Duet in B?. 1 LAMBERT Suite in 3 Continuous Movements. Prize Fight 1 Mark Tanner (pn); Allan Schiller (pn) 1 PRIORY 881 (73:43)

Interestingly, although the Wishart pieces date from 1949–59 and the Read more Lambert pieces from 1924–25, all of the works on this disc are first recordings. The three Wishart pieces comprise that composer’s complete piano works, while apparently there have been legal problems preventing the appearance of the Lambert until now.

Peter Wishart (1921–1984) was a pupil of Nadia Boulanger. It was that great lady who fostered a love of the neo-Classical in him. Yet this is not neo-Classicism of the Stravinskian school. Wishart is more oblique in his references, but there is an overall feel of reference to the past, plus a real (and effective) economy of means.

Opheis Kai Klimakes is Greek for “Snakes and Ladders” and shows the distinct influence of Hindemith (Shostakovich is also identifiable at various points). Written while the composer was a professor at Birmingham University, it was premiered in 1960 at the Wigmore Hall. It begins in the most unassuming of fashions with a Prelude of flowing grace. The second movement Fugue borrows its characteristic interval of a descending ninth from the Prelude, exploring its bareness. There is, indeed an almost lonely aspect to this fugue; another aspect of that loneliness is explored in the rather dark Presto which follows. More fugal writing informs the fourth movement, a brief, two minute, spiky affair. The final two movements are the longest, at 7:50 and 9:55 respectively. There is some gloriously beautiful and luminous play of lines in the Adagio. Tanner brings out the tissue-paper delicacy of this movement to perfection, while Neil Collier’s superbly balanced recording only adds to the enjoyment. A third fugue comprises the finale, a compositionally virtuosic display. Tanner not only delineates lines perfectly; he also is able to convey the piece’s structure convincingly. Impressive.

The Partita has four movements, each with a title: Prelude, Burlesca, Aria, and Capriccio. The work was completed in April 1950. Wishart’s compactness of expression is most appealing. He seems to say exactly what needs to be said, and strictly no more. The Aria, the third movement, has a suave grace that is most enjoyable and seems to inform the opening of the final Capriccio, before this finale finds its home speed of vivace.

Allan Schiller is Mark Tanner’s regular duet partner. Indeed, they seem to play as one in the 1949 Sonata, particularly in the Prelude. The Variations second movement presents the most imaginative music yet. Textures are born of fantasy, while the wide-ranging harmonies even occasionally bring to mind the music of Kaikhaosu Sorabji. Harmonic question marks abound, while the more capricious moments seem ever doomed to be subsumed into the overarching serious nature of the piece.

Constant Lambert’s Suite in Three Continuous Movements of 1925 is for solo piano and was given its broadcast premiere only in 2006. It is a hugely imaginative work. The sense of space of the opening section, as the booklet notes aver, invokes Copland. Tanner plays with much delicacy where required, sitting such passages alongside sparkling virtuosity. Ravel seems to be a (harmonic) influence here.

Influenced by the Ballets Russes, Lambert’s Prize Fight is heard here in a piano duet arrangement by the composer. The somewhat disjunct narrative certainly implies an acted-out scenario (there is even a bell, presumably signifying seconds out).The American Civil War song, When Johnny Comes Marching Home is featured—I am sure, too, I could hear The Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Ten Green Bottles . It is all great fun, and the perfect way to round out this excellent disc.

Mark Tanner is a hugely talented pianist. He surely deserved more recognition than he currently enjoys, and it is to be hoped this release will act as a step in the right direction.

FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

Opheis Kai Klimakes, Op. 35 by Peter Wishart
Performer:  Mark Tanner (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; England 
Venue:  St. George's Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 31 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Notes: St. George's Brandon Hill, Bristol (05/30/2006 - 05/31/2006) 
Partita for Piano in F sharp minor, Op. 10 by Peter Wishart
Performer:  Mark Tanner (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; England 
Venue:  St. George's Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 9 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Notes: St. George's Brandon Hill, Bristol (05/30/2006 - 05/31/2006) 
Sonata for 2 Pianos in B flat major, Op. 5 by Peter Wishart
Performer:  Mark Tanner (Piano), Allan Schiller (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; England 
Venue:  St. George's Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 9 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Notes: St. George's Brandon Hill, Bristol (05/30/2006 - 05/31/2006) 
Suite for Piano in Three Continuous Movements by Constant Lambert
Performer:  Mark Tanner (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925 
Venue:  St. George's Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 13 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Notes: St. George's Brandon Hill, Bristol (05/30/2006 - 05/31/2006) 
Prize Fight by Constant Lambert
Performer:  Mark Tanner (Piano), Allan Schiller (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Venue:  St. George's Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 8 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Notes: Version: 1924-25
St. George's Brandon Hill, Bristol (05/30/2006 - 05/31/2006)
Composition written: England (1924 - 1925). 

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